Passions Run High During First Meeting Of Panel Tasked With Discussing Dozier Memorial

Aug 3, 2016

Members of the Dozier Task Force met for the first time Wednesday. Among them are Stephen Britt (left)—the relative of a boy discovered on the Dozier grounds—and Jerry Cooper (right), the President of the White House Boys, a group of former wards of the Dozier school who say they were abused.
Credit Sascha Cordner / WFSU-FM

Wednesday marked the first meeting of a task force assigned to create a memorial for the uncovered remains associated with Dozier School for Boys, the former North Florida reform school where boys believed to be buried there died, due to alleged abuse.

Passions ran high during the preliminary meeting of the Dozier Task Force. At issue is the memorialized location of unidentified remains. Stephen Britt—the relative of a boy discovered on the Dozier grounds—feels it should be on the Marianna property, so everyone can remember.

“To bury them together, it will send a signal out to everyone that Jackson County and Marianna have evolved into the next level into humanity,” said Britt.

But, others, like Jerry Cooper, disagreed. Cooper along with several other men say they were physically or sexually abused at Dozier.

“Being a former resident of the former school for Boys aka Dozier, I can tell you a 100 reasons why they should not be returned to this property,” said Cooper.

Still, overall, Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner says he thinks the first meeting of the Dozier Task Force went well.

“I think it went really great. I think there were a lot of positive comments. This is a very emotionally charged issue, and people need to talk about it and get this subject matter out. I think this is an outstanding group of leaders that understand to get to the finish line—so to speak—and I’m looking forward to the next meeting and a very positive result to make recommendations to the Legislature.”

Final recommendations to the legislature on the memorial will be decided at the next August 19th meeting.

Stay tuned for more on this story on Friday's Capital Report.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.